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Parenting

Most Parents Give Their Child the Wrong Medicine Dose

1:30

According to a new study, most parents accidently give their child the wrong dose of liquid medication – sometimes, as much as twice the amount they should have.

The study, conducted at pediatric clinics in New York, Atlanta and Stanford, Calif., also found that most dosing errors occurred when parents used a measuring cup. There were fewer errors when parents measured the dose with an oral syringe.

Pediatric medicines generally rely on liquid formulations, and parents have to decipher a sometimes, bewildering assortment of instructions in different units with varying abbreviations — milliliters, mL, teaspoon, tsp., tablespoon. Some medicines come with a measuring tool, but often the units on the label are different from those on the tool. It can be very confusing, especially for a parent trying to treat a sick child.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended in 2013 that over-the-counter products use a standard dosing tool with consistent labeling. The changes however, were not required.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also recommended standard dosing tools for OTC products last year.

For this study, Dr. H. Shonna Yin and her colleagues ran an experiment to see what combination of tools and instructions would produce the fewest errors in dispensing liquid medication. They randomly assigned 2,110 parents to one of five pairings of the many possible combinations of tools and label instructions.

In nine trials, 84.4 percent of the parents made at least one dosing error, and more than 68 percent of the errors were overdoses. About 21 percent of parents at least once measured out more than twice the proper dose. Smaller doses produced more errors. When the dose was 2.5 milliliters, there were more than four times as many errors as when it was 5 milliliters.

The difference in errors was the tool used to give the medication. When a cup was used, there were four times as many errors as when an oral syringe was used.

“If the parents don’t have an oral syringe, the provider should give one to the parents to take home,” said Dr. Yin, who is an associate professor of pediatrics at New York University. “Especially for smaller doses, using the syringe made a big difference in accuracy.”

If you don’t have an oral syringe at your home, you can check with your pediatrician or pharmacist and they should be able to help you choose the right one for your child.

The study was published online in the journal, Pediatrics.

Story source: Nicholas Bakalar, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/13/well/family/most-parents-give-the-wrong-dose-of-liquid-medication.html?WT.mc_id=SmartBriefs-Newsletter&WT.mc_ev=click&ad-keywords=smartbriefsnl&_r=0

Your Child

Testing Your Child for Hearing Problems

1:30

Hearing well is critical to a child’s social, emotional and cognitive development.  When hearing problems are diagnosed early, most are treatable. So it’s important to have your little one’s hearing tested, ideally by the time your baby is 3 months old.

Hearing loss is more common that you’d probably expect. It affects about 1 to 3 babies out of every 1,000.

Although many things can lead to hearing loss, about half the time, no cause is found.

Hearing loss can occur if a child:

•       Was born prematurely

•       Stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)

•       Had newborn jaundice with bilirubin level high enough to require a blood transfusion

•       Was given medications that can lead to hearing loss

•       Has family members with childhood hearing loss

•       Had certain complications at birth

•       Had many ear infections

•       Had infections such as meningitis or cytomegalovirus

•       Was exposed to very loud sounds or noises, even briefly

When should your child be evaluated for hearing loss? Newborns should have a hearing screening before being discharged from the hospital. Every state and territory in the U.S. has a program called Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI). The program identifies every child with permanent hearing loss before 3 months of age, and provides intervention services before 6 months of age. If your baby doesn't have this screening, or was born at home or a birthing center, it's important to have a hearing screening within the first 3 weeks of life.

If your newborn doesn't pass the initial hearing screening, it's important to get a retest within 3 months so treatment can begin right away. Treatment for hearing loss can be the most effective if it's started before a child is 6 months old.

Children who seem to have normal hearing should continue to have their hearing evaluated at regular doctor’s appointments from ages 4 to 10 years of age.

If your child seems to have trouble hearing, if speech development seems abnormal, or if your child's speech is difficult to understand, talk with your doctor.

Even if your newborn passes the hearing screening, continue to watch for signs that hearing is normal. Some hearing milestones your child should reach in the first year of life:

•       Most newborn infants startle or "jump" to sudden loud noises.

•       By 3 months, a baby usually recognizes a parent's voice.

•       By 6 months, a baby can usually turn his or her eyes or head toward a sound.

•       By 12 months, a baby can usually imitate some sounds and produce a few words, such as "Mama" or "bye-bye."

As your baby grows into a toddler, signs of a hearing loss may include:

•       Limited, poor, or no speech

•       Frequently inattentive

•       Difficulty learning

•       Seems to need higher TV volume

•       Fails to respond to conversation-level speech or answers inappropriately to speech

•       Fails to respond to his or her name or easily frustrated when there's a lot of background noise 

There are several ways your child’s hearing can be tested depending on his or her age, development and health.

During behavioral tests, an audiologist carefully watches a child respond to sounds like calibrated speech (speech that is played with a particular volume and intensity) and pure tones. A pure tone is a sound with a very specific pitch (frequency), like a note on a keyboard.

An audiologist may know an infant or toddler is responding by his or her eye movements or head turns. A preschooler may move a game piece in response to a sound, and a grade-schooler may raise a hand. Children can respond to speech with activities like identifying a picture of a word or repeating words softly.

Doctors can also examine a child for hearing loss by looking at how well his or her ear, nerves and brain are functioning.

If a hearing problem is suspected, a pediatric audiologist specializing in testing and helping kids with hearing loss can be contacted. They work closely with doctors, teachers, and speech/language pathologists.

Audiologists have a lot of specialized training. They have a Masters or Doctorate degree in audiology, have performed internships, and are certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (CCC-A) or are Fellows of the American Academy of Audiology (F-AAA).

Children with certain types of hearing loss have several options for treatment. They may be helped with surgery or hearing aids. The most common type of hearing loss involves outer hair cells that do not work properly. Hearing aids can make sounds louder and overcome this problem.

A cochlear implant is a surgical treatment for hearing loss; this device doesn't cure hearing loss, but is a device that gets placed into the inner ear to send sound directly to the hearing nerve. It can help children with profound hearing loss who do not benefit from hearing aids.

Making sure that your child is hearing well is one of the first steps you can take to helping him or her do well socially, academically and developmentally.

Story source: Thierry Morlet, PhD, Rupal Christine Gupta, MD,

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/hear.html

 

Parenting

Helping Shy Children Find Their Way

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With school back in session, many shy kids are facing a difficult time. As a parent, you’re already familiar with your child’s personality and can tell when he or she is experiencing anxiety in a social situation.  Once your child enters school, there are going to be times when your little one is immersed in surroundings that may make them very uncomfortable, but along with challenges comes solutions.

As parents of a shy child, there are two traps to avoid: overprotectiveness and pressure. Trying to get your child to be more outgoing will only make him or her retreat. And sheltering denies them the chance to enjoy group activities or become comfortable in social circumstances. You have to walk a tightrope, promoting social behavior with compassion.

Some children are shy from birth and have a genetic predisposition to be that way. Other kids are shy only during certain situations that make them uncomfortable or afraid. These might include:

·      Meeting new people

·      Entering new situations

·      Being singled out or being the center of attention

·      Not knowing how they're expected to act or what they're expected to say

·      Being laughed at, embarrassed, or teased

Quite frankly, the last situation makes just about everyone uncomfortable, but for children that are naturally shy, it can be quite traumatic.

One tip for parents is to try and use the word “shy” less often when describing their child. Being labeled can make your child feel less confident. Being labeled anything presents a certain amount of pressure to live up to its definition. 

Instead, put a positive spin on his or her shyness. Maybe a more accurate characterization is "slow to warm up"; rather than withdrawing from or avoiding new situations, he or she just takes their time and sizes up the scene. This can be translated into a compliment: "You like to think things through," or "You like to get started slowly." As time goes on, your child can adopt this more positive view of him or her self and use it as a rebuttal if someone challenges their behavior.

Kids are often fearful when they don't have the social skills necessary to feel comfortable during a particular scenario. A child who hasn't spent much time around large groups of people, for instance, is more likely to want to avoid them. A child with low self-esteem or one who's been pushed hard academically may be afraid to fail, leading to shyness. Watch your child closely to see what triggers his or her shyness. Once you understand their anxieties better, you can talk them through and work together on ways to overcome them.

School is going to be a place where kids experience a tremendous amount of socialization- whether they want it or not. So why not practice difficult situations at home? This way, children have an idea of how to respond either before an event happens or before it happens again.

In an uncomfortable situation, a shy kid experiences the same physiological reactions that adults do. Your child may feel shaky, get sweaty, or turn red. His heart may race, or she may get a frog in her throat. If his reaction is visible to those around him, he may get even more embarrassed, setting up a cycle of awkwardness each time he has to step up to the plate.

With practice and reassurance, though, your child can prepare for those moments that throw him or her for a loop. You and your child can talk through the situations that make them nervous or, if your child is willing, even act them out together. He may giggle and think it's silly to practice saying hello at a birthday party or introducing himself to the soccer team, but he'll also begin to feel more confident in his ability to be friendly and relaxed.

You might also remind your child that it's normal to be nervous when meeting someone new, starting a new class, or being called upon by a teacher to speak. Describe one of your own flustered moments to show that most people have the same feelings.

In a child’s mind, one of the most important aspects of school is fitting in. This is a time when parents can make helpful suggestions. You might encourage him or her to get involved in activities by discussing the value of participation and then helping them discover a sport or activity they like to do. The key is to find something that suits them -- perhaps where they can be part of a team but still function as an individual, such as running cross-country or singing in the chorus. When a child realizes he or she is good at something, their confidence will rise, and so will their enthusiasm. However, if your child really resists, don't turn it into a power struggle. In a low-key way, keep making suggestions and trust that they’ll be drawn into an activity eventually.

Shyness should be a bump in the road, not a roadblock. With some anguish and a certain number of false steps, even very shy children can learn to forge relationships and cope when the spotlight is on them. They may have fewer friends than other kids, but those friendships will be just as close.

In rare cases, a child is so shy that he or she begins to avoid all interactions. If you are concerned that your child's shyness is isolating them or undermining their ability to function, seek help from a school counselor or your family pediatrician. Either may have valuable advice and can refer you to a specialist if necessary.

Yes, it can be like walking a tightrope trying to help a shy child learn how to handle uncomfortable situations. You don’t want to pressure too much or protect too much and it can be emotionally challenging figuring out the next step.  

By accepting your child as he or she is, you can help them accept who they are. It may help to remind yourself that your child's temperament isn't a reflection of your parenting skills. As long as he or she has some friends, is reasonably happy with his or her self, and can function as a student and family member, all is well. Praise your kid for their efforts to be social, provide advice when asked, keep an eye on their progress and challenges and know that they will find their way in the world.

Story source: Anne Krueger, https://consumer.healthday.com/encyclopedia/children-s-health-10/child-development-news-124/shyness-ages-6-to-12-645930.html

Your Baby

Thousands of Head Injuries Related to Strollers and Baby Carriers

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According to a new report, between 1990 and 2010, an estimated 316,000 children five years or younger suffered injuries from strollers and baby carriers that were serious enough to land them in the ER.

The analysis found that in 1990, fewer than one in five accidents in strollers or baby carriers resulted in traumatic brain injuries or concussions. But by 2010, 42 percent of children in stroller accidents and 53 percent of babies in carrier accidents who were treated in emergency rooms were found to have suffered a brain injury or concussion.

The higher rate of brain injuries does not necessarily mean that strollers and carriers are more dangerous now than in the 1990s. It could be that physicians and other medical care providers have become more aware of traumatic brain injury and concussion and are reporting these types of injury, said Kristin J. Roberts, the study’s co-author and a research associate in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

The data showed that the majority of the injuries (55 percent) occurred in children who were younger than 1 year old, and most of the injuries occurred when children fell from a stroller or carrier or when they tipped over. The head and face most commonly took the brunt of the falls.

“It’s not uncommon to see a child who has fallen out of a carrier that was placed on a bed or a child who was not strapped into a stroller,” said Dr. Leslie Dingeldein, a pediatric emergency physician at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio.

While the study showed that an average of 17,187 children each year end up in hospital emergency rooms because of stroller and carrier injuries, overall injury rates associated with these accidents declined over the 21-year period studied.

Roberts also noted that the incidences of stroller and carrier accidents might be even higher because the data doesn’t include injuries treated at pediatricians’ offices, private urgent care facilities or at home.

The study authors noted that in 2014, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued updated standards that addressed potential stroller-related hazards such as hinges, brakes, buckles, structural integrity and stability. The new standards went into effect in September of 2015, after the study’s data collection period.

“The good news for parents who rely on strollers and carriers is that new federal mandatory safety standards for these products address many of the risks to children identified in this study,” Elliot Kaye, chairman of the safety commission, said in an email to the New York Times.

The Mayo Clinic offers these safety tips when baby is in a stroller:

•       Stay close. Don't leave your baby unattended in his or her stroller.

•       Be careful with toys. If you hang toys from a stroller bumper bar to entertain your baby, make sure that the toys are securely fastened.

•       Buckle up. Always buckle your baby's harness and seat belt when taking him or her for a stroller ride.

•       Use your brakes. Engage your stroller brakes whenever you stop the stroller.

•       Properly store belongings. Don't hang a bag from the stroller's handle bar, which can make a stroller tip over.

•       Take caution when folding. Keep your baby away from the stroller as you open and fold it, since small fingers can get caught in stroller hinges. Always make sure the stroller is locked open before you put your child in it.

•       Keep it out of the sun. During hot weather, don't let your baby's stroller sit in the sun for long periods of time. This can cause plastic and metal pieces to become hot enough to burn your baby. If you leave the stroller in the sun, check the stroller's surface temperature before placing your baby in the stroller.

•       Check for recalls. Return the stroller warranty card so that you'll be notified in case of a recall. If you're considering a used stroller, make sure the stroller hasn't been recalled.

The report was published in the journal Academic Pediatrics.

Story sources: Rachel Rabkin Peachman, http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/08/17/more-head-injuries-reported-for-babies-in-stroller-accidents/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/stroller-safety/art-20043967?pg=2

Parenting

Calming Kid’s Pre-Surgery Anxiety: iPads or Drugs?

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Once you think about it, it makes a lot of sense; a new study shows that iPads work as well as sedative drugs to calm anxious kids before surgery.

Researchers assessed 112 children between 4 and 10 years old in France who had day surgery requiring general anesthesia. Twenty minutes before receiving the anesthesia, 54 kids were given the sedative midazolam and 58 were handed an iPad to distract them.

Guess what they found. The anxiety level for both groups was about the same. However, iPads conferred none of the side effects of sedatives, the researchers said. Also, they said the kids given iPads were easier to anesthetize.

"Our study showed that child and parental anxiety before anesthesia are equally blunted by midazolam or use of the iPad," said Dr. Dominique Chassard and colleagues at Hospital Femme-Mere-Enfant in Bron, France. "However, the quality of induction of anesthesia, as well as parental satisfaction, were judged better in the iPad group."

As any parent knows, iPads and other tablets offer an endless amount of entertainment to help children relax. From music to cartoons to games, there are plenty of programs available to take a child’s mind off of the current situation.  It’s not surprising they would work to help alleviate anxiety before something as scary as surgery. 

The study was to be presented this week at the World Congress of Anesthesiologists meeting in Hong Kong. Researched presented at medical meetings is considered preliminary.

Story source: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20160830/ipads-calm-surgery-bound-kids-as-well-as-sedatives

 

Your Child

40% of Children 3 to 11 Are Exposed to Secondhand Smoke

2:00

The good news is that exposure to secondhand smoke dropped by half in the United States between 1999 and 2012. While more and more people are giving up the unhealthy habit, the amount of children being exposed to secondhand smoke is still significant – particularly in the African-American population. 

In a recent report, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 58 million American nonsmokers are exposed to secondhand smoke.

In that group, the CDC suggests that 40 percent of children aged 3 to 11 are breathing in secondhand smoke and among black children, the number is much higher at 70 percent.

"Secondhand smoke can kill, and too many Americans -- and particularly too many children -- are still exposed to secondhand smoke," Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said during a midday press conference.

Frieden, citing the U.S. Surgeon General, said, "There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke." Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals including about 70 that can cause cancer, he added.

The connection of secondhand smoke and illnesses in children has been widely studied and reported. In infants and children, secondhand smoke has been linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), respiratory infections, ear infections and asthma attacks.

In adult nonsmokers, passive smoke has been tied to heart disease, stroke and lung cancer, according to Frieden.

Each year, secondhand smoke kills more than 41,000 Americans from lung cancer and heart disease, and causes 400 deaths from SIDS, Frieden said. "These deaths are entirely preventable," he added.

Susan Liss, executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a statement: "The high level of child exposure to secondhand smoke also underscores the need for parents to take additional steps to protect children, such as ensuring that homes, cars and other places frequented by children are smoke-free. For parents who smoke, the best step to protect children is to quit smoking."

Smoking can become such a mindless habit that parents and caregivers forget that their children are breathing in the smoke they exhale. In nonsmoking homes, it can be difficult when friends or other family members want to light up when visiting. Asking people to either step outside or not smoke in the house has caused many a friends and family rift. But, standing your ground will protect your child from the influence of smoking and the polluted air that flows from a smoker.

Most restaurants, bars and workplaces have issued smoke-free policies but one's home and auto are open to personal choice. The number of U.S. households that are now smoke-free has increased in the past 20 years from 43 percent to 83 percent and that’s truly amazing considering our long love affair with cigarettes and cigars!

However, when 1 in 4 nonsmokers – including many children-are still being exposed, it’s going to take more parents, friends and family members to put down their cigarettes for good to finally stop children and adults from suffering the disastrous effects of breathing in secondhand smoke.

Source: Steven Reinberg, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/58-million-americans-exposed-to-secondhand-smoke-cdc-696149.html

Parenting

What Do Kids Need to Succeed in School?

2:00

Does poverty impact a child’s ability to do well in school? Possibly says a new study, but parenting skills play a more important role.

Child development experts say that there are lots of things parents can do to help their young child grow into a successful adult. This study examines the importance of parents, especially those in the low-income bracket, having high educational expectations for their child as well as reading to them and providing computer access and training.

The path to success begins before your child heads off to kindergarten. These findings point to the importance of doing more to prepare children for kindergarten, said study co-author Dr. Neal Halfon, director of the Center for Healthier Children, Families & Communities at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"The good news is that there are some kids doing really well," he said. "And there are a lot of seemingly disadvantaged kids who achieve much beyond what might be predicted for them because they have parents who are managing to provide them what they need."

The researchers wanted to examine what it takes to help a child succeed in school. The team began by examining statistics to better understand the role of factors like poverty. "We didn't want to just look at poor kids versus rich kids, or poor versus all others," Halfon said.

Conventional thought is that "you'll do better if you get read to more, you go to preschool more, you have more regular routines and you have more-educated parents," Halfon added.

Researchers examined results of a study of 6,000 U.S. English and Spanish- speaking children who were born in 2001. The kids took math and reading tests when they entered kindergarten, and their parents answered survey questions. The investigators then adjusted the results so they wouldn't be thrown off by high or low numbers of certain types of kids.

Parental expectations played a role in how the children’s future scholastic goals were perceived. For example, only 57 percent of parents of kids who scored the worst expected their child to attend college, compared to 96 percent of parents of children who scored the highest.

The results showed that children who attended preschool scored higher on the tests than children who didn’t. Computer use at home was also more common for the higher scorers -- 84 percent compared to 27 percent. Parents also read more to the kids who scored the best, the findings showed.

Halfon noted that the parent’s own attitude about preschool had a big impact on whether their child attended or not.

Karen Smith, a pediatric psychologist with the University of Texas Medical Branch, praised the study and said it points to the importance of helping poorer parents develop parenting skills and start believing they can really support their children.

"Parents from more affluent families know what to do when it comes to reading to their kids, probably because they've been read to," Smith said. Poorer parents "may not even have the money for books, and maybe they weren't read to themselves."

The study points out that preschool attendance is crucial for helping children develop better learning skills, however, it’s not the only factor that plays an important role.

Smith and Halfon agreed that it's crucial to teach poorer parents how to be better at parenting. Still, Halfon said, "there's no single one magic bullet that's going to solve the problem," not even widening access to preschool. "That's necessary," he said, "but it's probably not sufficient."

Parents that make their child’s education an important part of their childrearing help their children succeed most. Reading to children is a key part of developing a child’s attitude towards studying and expression.  A child that is excited to learn new words and is able to understand the flow of a story learns how to express their own ideas better with less frustration. New challenges aren’t as daunting.

Computer use is essential in this day and age. Libraries can provide access to computers for families that cannot afford to buy one. It takes time and commitment and when money is scarce it’s often twice as difficult, but it can make an enormous difference in a child’s ability to keep up with changing technology as well opening up a new world of opportunities.

Children rely solely on their parent’s guidance and this study points out how much that guidance can change the course of their little one’s lives.

The study is online and comes out in print in the February issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Source: Randy Dotinga, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/child-development-news-124/family-income-expectations-key-to-kindergarten-performance-695515.html

 

Your Child

Does Birth Order Impact Children’s IQ or Personality?

2:00

In 1982, “The Birth Order Book” by psychologist, Dr. Kevin Leman, was published and quickly became a best seller. The premise was that there are four personality types based on a person’s birth order. Since then, other authors have written extensively about whether one’s birth order has a lasting effect on our personalities, IQ, successes or failures in life and other physical, emotional or psychological traits.

Now, a large study from the University of Illinois says there may be a slight benefit to being the first born in a family, but the difference is miniscule and offers no real advantage or disadvantage in how a person’s life plays out.

Psychology professor Brent Roberts, along with former postdoctoral researcher Rodica Damian, conducted an analysis of 377,000 high school-age students to test the assumption.

The researchers found that first-born children do tend to have a slightly higher IQ and often display differing personality traits than their siblings later, but the differences are so small between the first- born and the later-born that they really have no significant impact on their lives.

Their analysis determined first-borns had a one-point IQ advantage over their following siblings, statistically significant in scientific terms but meaningless in suggesting any practical effects on a person's life.

Previous studies have been conducted on the same topic, but most had a small sample size – that’s why Roberts believes this study is noteworthy.

"This is a conspicuously large sample size," he says.  "It's the biggest in history looking at birth order and personality."

Looking at personality differences, the study found first-borns tended to be slightly more extroverted, conscientious, agreeable and less anxious that later-borns, but that those differences were on a scale of 0.02, or "infinitesimally small," Roberts notes.

Statistical differences can be more or less valuable depending on what is being examined.

"In some cases, if a drug saves 10 out of 10,000 lives, for example, small [statistical] effects can be profound," Roberts said. However, he noted, when it comes to personality traits a 0.02 difference is so small as to be invisible, something that wouldn't be apparent to the naked eye.

"You're not going to be able to sit two people down next to each other and see the differences between them," he says. "It's not noticeable by anybody."

Damien, who is now a now a professor of psychology at the University of Houston, says she and Roberts controlled for factors that might skew results, including a family's economic level, the number of siblings and their relative ages.

Whether a child’s birth order has any effect on his or her personality or IQ is still somewhat controversial among child psychologists and psychiatrists.  Some believe it has its place in child rearing and others think it is simply pop culture. Most would probably agree however, that a child’s later personality and IQ are typically based on more complicated factors than whether they were the first, middle, last or only child in the family.

The study was published in the Journal of Research in Personality.

Source: Jim Algar,  http://www.techtimes.com/articles/69519/20150716/birth-order-has-no-effect-on-iq-or-personality-massive-study-finds.htm

 

 

Your Child

Early Childhood Trauma Tied to Learning, Behavioral Problems

2:00

When children five years old and younger experienced a traumatic event in their lives, the fall-out from that event can show up in learning and behavioral problems by the time they enter kindergarten, according to a new study. 

Traumatic events, also known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), can range from physical, sexual or psychological abuse and neglect, substance abuse, mental illness, violence in the home to a family member in jail; anything that causes a great deal of stress or fear in a young child’s life.

The study, "Adverse Experiences in Early Childhood and Kindergarten Outcomes," in the February 2016 online edition of Pediatrics, includes data on more than 1,000 children in large U.S. cities whose teachers rated school performance at the end of kindergarten.

Students who'd experienced one or more previously reported ACE were significantly more likely to struggle in the classroom, displaying below-average language, literacy and math skills, as well as aggression and social problems.

The more adverse events a child experienced, according to the study, the more academic and behavior problems increased.

While it’s often said that children are resilient, and they are to a certain extent, when they are exposed to continuous traumatic situations, their body’s natural way of dealing with stress changes and the stress becomes toxic resulting in a higher risk of behavioral challenges, sickness and mental health problems.

Children who experience traumatic stressors will often look to the adults who care for them for reassurance that things will be okay and that they will be protected.

The most important adults in a young child's life are his/her caregivers and relatives. These adults can help reestablish security and stability for children who have experienced trauma by:

•       Answering children's questions in language they can understand, so that they can develop an understanding of the events and changes in their life

•       Developing family safety plans

•       Engaging in age-appropriate activities that stimulate the mind and body

•       Finding ways to have fun and relax together

•       Helping children expand their "feelings" vocabulary

•       Honoring family traditions that bring them close to the people they love, e.g., storytelling, holiday celebrations, reunions, trips

•       Looking for changes in behaviors

•       Helping children to get back on track

•       Setting and adhering to routines and schedules

•       Setting boundaries and limits with consistency and patience

•       Showing love and affection

Sometimes professional help is needed for children to learn new coping skills. In some cases family therapy is desirable. Parents or caregivers may wish to consult their pediatrician, their child's teacher, and/or their childcare provider for suggestions of professionals who specialize in early childhood mental health.

The authors of the study said they hope the findings encourage policymakers and practitioners to find ways for early childhood professionals like pediatricians and educators to work together to support at-risk children and their families. 

Sources: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/news/Pages/Early-Traumatic-Experiences-Tied-to-Learning-Behavioral-Difficulties-in-Kindergarten.aspx

http://www.nctsn.org/content/helping-young-children-who-have-been-exposed-trauma-families-and-caregivers

 

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